A large, multi-colored fish washed up on the Oregon coast last week, in what aquarium officials called a rare occurrence.
The 45 kg opah fish, also known as sunfish, was discovered on Sunset Beach in Seaside, a city in the northwestern part of the state. It is a “rare fish off the Oregon coast,” Seaside Aquarium said in a Facebook post showing multiple images of the one meter long fish.
Keith Chandler, manager of the Seaside Aquarium, told Citizen Free Press that an opah off the Oregon coast is “rare to find.” He added that it was “in very good shape.”
“They are very interesting fish and we don’t normally see them on shore,” Chandler said. “It was very exciting for the locals.”
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), little is known about the species as it lives in the depths of the ocean. It is usually found in temperate and tropical waters.
The opah is an unusual looking fish, according to NOAA, it has a round, flat body that is silver-gray in color.
“Towards the belly (of the fish), the silver tones turn into a rose red dotted with white spots,” reads the NOAA website. “Their fins and mouth are red, and their big eyes are ringed with gold.”
Due to the conditions the fish was found in, Chandler believes it had been on the beach less than an hour before the aquarium staff received a tip.
“Unfortunately it appeared lifeless, but we arrived before the birds,” he said.
The opah was moved to a large refrigerator, Chandler said. The aquarium plans to work with a local organization, the Columbia River Maritime Museum, to dissect the fish. The aquarium added that a school group will have the opportunity to be part of the dissection.
Chandler said the aquarium plans to “get as much data” as possible from the dissection to learn more about the species.
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